Chapter 7 covers the last step of the design process— the completed ensemble, with specific attention to how designers can conduct it for the adaptive apparel market. Resources from chapters 1 and 3 are brought together to help the adaptive apparel designer sew the garments in the intended fabric, test effectiveness of planned materials, test effectiveness of planned construction techniques, and receive user feedback through interview, survey, and/or through wear testing.
Brief overview of completed ensembles in apparel design
In this step of the apparel design process, the garments are sewn in the intended fabric. Creating the completed ensemble is important as it allows the designer or product developer to test effectiveness of planned materials and construction techniques; and receive user feedback. This feedback may lead the designer to circle back to one of the earlier steps to improve the design.
Creating the completed ensemble
The tips provided below show how to use resources from chapters 1 and 3 to develop the completed adaptive apparel or soft goods products. These include finalizing the design, including materials and construction techniques.
How to use Chapter 1’s Disabilities’ Impact on Dressing and Clothing Needs to develop completed ensembles of adaptive apparel
- Consider the specific dressing challenges related to your client’s disability and identify design considerations for your design. If not already addressed in the patternmaking and first sample processes, make sure that appropriate design elements, seam types, and construction techniques are included in your completed ensemble.
How to use Chapter 1’s Illustrated Glossary of Clothing Adaptations to develop completed ensembles of adaptive apparel
- Use the illustrations of clothing adaptation to guide your construction of your completed ensemble. For example, flat seams may be used to provide sensory comfort, or an elastic band may be used at the waist to allow the garment to open extra-wide for ease of donning and doffing. These illustrations may be incorporated into construction guides or technical specification packages.
How to use Chapter 1’s Textiles (Selection and Rationale) to develop completed ensembles of adaptive apparel
- If not already completed in the first sample process, review the descriptions of textile properties—thermal protection, comfort, easy care, and breathability—and decide which factors are most important when selecting fabrics for your garments or soft-goods products. Note key fabric selection criteria and potential fabric types appropriate for the completed ensemble of your design.
How to use Chapter 3’s Sourcing Guide (Where to Buy Notions and Materials for Adaptive Clothing)to develop completed ensembles of adaptive apparel
- After identifying notions and fabric types appropriate to meet the needs of your client or target market, use Chapter 3’s sourcing guide to source these materials to evaluate in your completed ensemble. Be sure to keep track of important sourcing information, so you can easily re-order if you decide to implement these materials in your final product.
Gathering User Feedback
User feedback may be gathered in a variety of ways. The first step is to list the intended functions of the product and decide how to collect data to gather feedback on that function. It can be helpful to write out questions that you seek to have answered regarding your adaptive apparel design. This, in turn can inform what and how data should be collected. Pros, cons, and best practices for various user feedback techniques are discussed below.
Wear testing can be useful in understanding the effectiveness of the design in meeting the user’s needs as intended. User(s) can wear or use the product in its intended setting for a time that allows understanding of how it would work/function. This is more than just trying it on. Before the wear test, the user and designer should collaboratively produce a list of specific functions that the garment would serve and activities the user will engage in to evaluate those functions. For example, let’s say a corset with magnetic closures was designed. The user and designer should consider what type of activities will be engaged in and for how long. Will they be sitting at a formal dinner? Getting in and out of a car? Dancing? This thoughtful preparation can optimize the wear test to give the most useful information about the design as intended to use used. It is also good to plan ahead how the user’s evaluation of the product will be collected. Interviews or surveys, discussed below, can be used, but other methods—such as user diaries are possible.
Interview, Surveys, and Focus Groups
If wear testing is not possible, potential users can still be asked to evaluate the product—either firsthand or digitally – through focus groups, interviews, or surveys. The designer should ensure that the wording is at the appropriate reading level for the target audience. Make sure not to use jargon that may be unfamiliar to people outside of the apparel industry. If necessary to use such terms, be sure to define them. The designer should also consider the usability aspects of interfaces. For example, this may include functionality with screen readers, translations, etc. See https://www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/wcag/glance/ for further information.
Surveys offer the advantage of being able to reach a larger audience of potential users. However, if the survey is digital, rather than in person, it may not be possible for the user to evaluate the product ‘hands-on’. Nonetheless, the product may be presented through photographs, 3D images, virtual reality, technical drawings, and written specifications. Interviews and focus groups can provide more depth in the users’ evaluation as the interviewee can ask follow-up questions, based on the individuals’ responses. Interviews and focus groups may be in person or digital (via remote video meeting platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or WebEx), with the same product presentation factors as mentioned with surveys.
Gathered feedback may lead the designer to circle back to one of the earlier steps to improve the design.